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Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  18,237 ratings  ·  2,149 reviews
In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, pa ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Harper Perennial
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Chris Blocker I am male. I was sexually assaulted by two women when I was a teenager. I said "no." One forced my hand down her pants. She grabbed at me. When they r…moreI am male. I was sexually assaulted by two women when I was a teenager. I said "no." One forced my hand down her pants. She grabbed at me. When they realized I wouldn't comply, they said they were going to rape me. I didn't know this was possible at the time, but they told me they had drugs that would make it easy. I was afraid. I began to yell at them and they apparently decided I wasn't worth the effort. I was fortunate to escape.

I would argue that the source of the problem of rape is hateful people making a terrible choice, but what do I know? Everyone I've told about my experience says I should've just enjoyed it.(less)

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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
We tell ourselves it’s not that bad.
We’re told we’re angry women.

It is that bad.
I am angry.

We should be.
Emily May
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, 2018, nonfiction
Powerful. Raw. Stunning writing. Pretty much everything I would expect from a collection put together by Roxane Gay.
What is it like to live in a culture where it often seems like it is a question of when, not if, a woman will encounter some kind of sexual violence?

This is book about rape and rape culture. Some of the stories are empowering, some are depressing, but all talk about important aspects of the world we live in. Many of the writers explore how rape culture is not just about the act
Mario the lone bookwolf
One of the most shocking books I´ve ever read, made possible by the courage and bravery of the authors who try to overcome their traumas by telling their personal stories of all kinds of sexual violence, enabling a far more open debate and discussions and thereby hopefully someday a society and justice system that helps and cares for the victims.

It begins with diminutives, escalates to sexism and sexual harassment, and ends with abuse. Already in childhood, a boy gets the instruction to manly de
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, loved-it
Sometimes, when a book speaks deeply to me, I have problems putting into words what my thoughts are. This is one of those cases. Roxane Gay has built an anthology so strong, both in subject matter and in style, that I am feeling inadequate talking about it. I will try though, so bear with me while I work through my feelings.

It comes as no surprise that Roxane Gay is my hero. When this anthology arrived on my doorstep (I had preordered it months ago), I could not wait to start reading it. And I r
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Don’t ever use an insult for a woman that you wouldn’t use for a man. Say “jerk” or “shithead” or “asshole.” Don’t say “bitch” or “whore” or “slut.” If you say “asshole,” you’re criticizing her parking skills. If you say “bitch,” you’re criticizing her gender.”

Trigger warning: violence, rape, and sexual assault.

I can't even begin to express the whirlwind of emotions that I felt while reading this book. They ran through my veins like poison, twisted my guts, brought tears to my eyes, and made me
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Update: Bumping this down to 3.5 stars as I thought more about the anthology's lack of cohesion and editing.

Really tough to get into at first, obviously due to the emotionally difficult subject matter. I appreciated the diversity of stories, both in terms of the authors' backgrounds and their experiences with rape culture. I expected all of the essays to be from people directly affected by rape, but liked that the authors had different experiences within the culture as a whole, and I think that
This has been, by far, the toughest book I've ever read. A numerical rating doesn't even seem to make sense with this essay collection. How do you rate people's trauma? Raw. Unflinching. Haunting. An essay collection that will be sitting with me for a long time. ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
Excellent anthology about rape culture and the patriarchal world we live in that perpetuates it. Roxane Gay serves as editor of this powerful collection in which several writers share their stories of date rape, inappropriate touching, child molestation, and other instances of violence and harassment. I appreciate the diversity in Not That Bad, both of the writers’ experiences as well as their identities, as the collection includes women of color, queer and trans individuals, people of various a ...more
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
A hard book to read. The pervasiveness of sexual abuse in all our lives is sickening. There is a wide variety of stories, and I wish I didn't have to say to myself: "Yes, I've experienced this. And that. And that too." I hope writing these essays was cathartic. Not all essays were equally well written, but they all were equally affecting and of value.

The one stood out for me, and it couldn't not to because of my identity as a reader and my interactions with other readers here, on Goodreads, was
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trigger warning: violence, rape and sexual assault.

This book was a very well-crafted book with various important voices talking about such an important subject matter. This is an important read not just to people who do not understand the lifelong impact of sexual abuse, rape, and trauma but for everyone.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Anyone who doesn't understand the lifelong impact of sexual abuse, rape, and trauma (and how very different it is from regret over a bad date) should read this book. An alternate title could have been been "Get Over It."⠀

This also will probably be valuable to people who haven't been able to share their own stories but can find comfort in not being alone. These personal essays are not all by straight women, so that adds a necessary diversity to the picture.

Roxane Gay says in the introduction th
da AL
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone needs to read this. Everyone. So many brave stories. The audio version is phenomenal. Throughout, I'm reminded of Frida Kahlo's painting, "A Few Small Nips," which quotes the words of
a man after he murdered his girlfriend.
Schizanthus Nerd
I went on a bit of a journey through Opposite Land while reading this book. I love that this book exists. I hate that it has to.

The title was what initially grabbed my attention: Not That Bad. How many times have I and countless others said that?! Was it because it wasn’t that bad? No. It was that bad but we still live in a world that, on the whole, doesn’t want to know about sexual assault.

It doesn’t quite feel right to say I have a favourite anything where rape culture is concerned so instead
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As is always the case with anthologies, some stories are more engaging than others. I also listened to this as and audiobook and I have to say, some narrators were very good and some so bad I almost couldn't listen to them.All in all, this was an interesting collection, if not exactly illuminating. I did think it was good to include authors with such a wide array of backgrounds and that not each experience was rape, but each experience did show that the threat of rape lies even in something cert ...more
Nat K
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This is your life. This is your life. This is your life."

I'm a huge fan of Roxane Gay & her ability to get the conversation started about topics we'd prefer not to talk about.

The introduction of this book has Roxane Gay recount the "terrible, life-changing experience" where as a twelve year old, she was gang raped by a group of boys, in the woods near her home.

It was a horrific event which she tried to forget. For a long time she shrugged it off as being "not that bad" (in comparison to what ot
Impressions, perceptions, ideas, emotions, concepts on rape and rape culture. Far more complex than is evident.

Roxane Gay compiles a cornucopia of essays about all aspects of rape and rape culture.  Rape culture is defined as a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse. Multiple points of view are explored here (though only from the victim perspective).  There are testimonies about how the rape culture somewh
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author/editor Roxane Gay has assembled nearly thirty essays from people who experienced rape, sexual abuse and/or child molestation. From understandable outrage ('Good Girls' by Amy Jo Burns and "All the Angry Women' by Lyz Lenz) to young innocence destroyed ('I Said Yes' by Anthony Frame and 'Picture Perfect' by Sharisse Tracey - both extremely heartbreaking) to the ugly side of the American entertainment industry (actress Ally Sheedy's timely 'Stasis') to the therapy process (Stacey May Fowles ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
This just sent me in a fucking whirlwind. Read this book. I can’t provide a review of this book that gives it justice.

Roxanne Gay is a fierce fucking force of nature who I now adore.
Rachel León
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, read-in-2018, 2018
This book should be required reading.
I feel like a bad person for not totally loving this book. It was just hard to get through and some of the stories didn't really move me one way or the other. I ended up just feeling sad while reading and finally finishing this book off with some wine. I think also that looking at rape culture is a huge undertaking, and so the stories could have flowed a bit better between them to the next story. Also I wish that things were not left vague in a few stories. A few times I went wait what happened ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know where to start reviewing this, Not That Bad evoked so much reaction in me and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to read it. If I only had one word to describe this book, I would choose POWERFUL.

I took my time reading this book, not because I didn't like it but because it is not an easy read. Each story in Not That Bad is written by someone who experienced rape or sexual abuse in some form. There is suffering, pain, depression, hate, self-blame... All of these emot
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This I think is a very important read, but also definitely not one for the faint of heart. If I could change anything about my reading experience, I would have read this over a longer period of time and not essay after essay after essay in one sitting - unfortunately I had to do this as it was a library book with an impending due date, but I think I was by the last 25% not really engaging as much as I would have liked with the content. And these women's stories need to be heard. Well worth picki ...more
"Perhaps the most horrifying thing about nonconsensual sex is that, in an instant, it erases you. Your own desires, your safety and well-being, your ownership of the body that may very well have been the only thing you ever felt sure you owned—all of it becomes irrelevant, even nonexistent."

I felt so deeply for everyone who contributed. We are all fighting this battle and now more than ever we need to speak out.

Required reading.
A challenging, confronting, critically important collection. Required reading.
Laura Noggle
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important. Challenging. Powerful. Heartbreaking.

Essential as it not only lets survivors of sexual assault know they are not alone and fighting similar demons, it should make you a better, more empathetic person from reading it.

Statistically, you know at least one survivor—if not more. It's impossible to know what someone is dealing with. By all means, be kind to your fellow humans.

These stories provide a range of experiences from all walks, ages, and perspectives of life. They need to be HEARD s
I have never had such a hard time getting through a book that I liked. "Liked" actually feels like the wrong word here. How can I say I liked something that made me angry and frustrated almost 100% of the way through, and which filled me with dread every time I tried to convince myself to pick it back up again? Perhaps "appreciated"? Understand is necessary? See its importance? But not liked.

I didn't expect this reaction, even though rape is a tough subject to read about under the best circumst
Dannii Elle
Wherever you come from and whoever you may be, if you are reading this then go and read the book instead.

This is a raw collation of individual's responses to and experiences with rape culture. Many diverse perspectives are amalgamated here and it provides an entirely heart-breaking but powerful and necessary read.

Roxane Gay introduced this collection by relaying her own experiences with rape culture. What she encountered afterwards became a common theme throughout. Many individuals suffered from
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
Rape and rape culture's not that bad.


Yes. It is that bad.

In Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, these aspects and their presences in our culture get splayed and dissected by various women and men in this book. For example, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Frame serve as narrators. Nothing's clean. Nothing's politically correct to protect the senses of rapists, molesters, and their enablers. A purging of pain and hindrance brought on by the aforementioned groups
Everyone should read this book. So powerful, so relevant, so necessary. An intersectional take on what it means to live in American rape culture.
Look, don't let my rating fool you. This is an important book; it should be required reading. I love the inclusion of both LGTB and male voices, and important.

I just, and this isn't going to sound nice but, I just wish there had more culture, if that makes sense. While the bulk of the collection are personal essays, most of those are about writers who have survived rape. Which is fine, but those personal essays, by and large, are also about coming to the realizations about lack of victim blami
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Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Ba ...more

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